An agricultural employer in Steele has paid in excess of $18,000 in back wages and fines following the provision of favorable conditions to H-2A visa employees at the expense of American workers.

Employer: Boatwright Farms LLC
Address: 2683 County Road 42 Steele, AL 35987

Investigation Findings:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation at Boatwright Farms LLC and found that the employer had violated several labor laws. The investigation revealed that 106 U.S. workers were underpaid, receiving a lower rate of pay than legally required. The employer, which is located in Steele, Alabama, had recruited and hired H-2A workers to plant, grow, harvest, and prepare tomatoes for shipping.

Violations:
The agency found that Boatwright Farms LLC had violated regulations of the H-2A program by paying U.S. workers in corresponding jobs a lower hourly rate than the H-2A workers. The employer also failed to comply with the job order’s requirements by not stating the actual terms and conditions of the job and not providing workers with their wage and hour statements. Additionally, the employer violated the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act.

Back Wages Recovered:
As a result of the investigation, the Wage and Hour Division recovered $8,862 in back wages for the 106 workers who were underpaid.

Civil Money Penalties Assessed:
In addition to back wages, the division assessed $9,970 in civil money penalties to the employer for their violations.

Quote from Wage and Hour Division District Director:
Kenneth Stripling, the Wage and Hour Division District Director in Birmingham, Alabama, stated, “In order to participate in the H-2A program, agricultural employers are required to pay U.S. workers no less than corresponding H-2A workers. Our investigation found that this employer failed to adhere to legal standards when employing workers – including failing to inform them of the job requirements and location and not providing them with wage stubs and correct pay. Our agency has various resources available to assist employers in understanding their obligations under the law.”

Background:
The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to hire temporary non-immigrant workers to meet business demands while also protecting U.S. workers. The Wage and Hour Division offers information on farmworker rights, compliance assistance resources for employers, and an agriculture compliance assistance toolkit to ensure compliance with labor laws.

Contact Information:
Employees and employers can contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE, for assistance. Workers can call the division confidentially with any questions, regardless of their nationality, and the department can communicate with callers in over 200 languages. To learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool for back wages collected by the division, visit their website. Additionally, workers and employers can download the department’s free timesheet app, available in Spanish, to ensure accurate recording of hours worked and pay.  

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